By Anthony Tan in Plan de Corones, Italy
Although many were talking about the epic climb to the Plan de Corones on Stage 17, it was in fact the climb before it that created a heated talking point between Giro organisers RCS Sport and the riders before the stage start in Termeno this morning.
Direzione di Organizzazione Mauro Vegni spoke at length with the 163 riders left in the 2006 Giro d'Italia after news broke about the conditions on the Passo delle Erbe, where temperatures were reported to be 3-4 degrees Celsius at the top. With a technical 20 kilometre descent that followed, riders and their team managers argued the wind chill factor was too extreme to conduct a bike race on today, and as a consequence, Vegni announced the stage would take a diversion north to the Rio Pusteria, before coming back to the original percorso at Longega, 4.3 kilometres before the 110 Gazzetta sprint in San Vigilio di Marebbe.
The latter village was 13.3 kilometres from the finish at the Plan De Corones/Kronplatz, so the final climb ostensibly remained untouched - but a blanket of snow covering the top of the mountain saw another change less than one and a half hours before the finish. The persistent, abysmal weather forced Vegni to cut the stage a further five kilometres, with the finish now becoming the Passo di Furcia/Furkelsattel; the aforementioned diversion and the shortening of the Plan de Corones resulting in the riders racing just 121 kilometres at the end of the day.